WHSFA State Debate Contest

2019 — Madison, WI/US

The WHSFA invites member and partner high schools to participate in our annual culminating state debate contest at Hortonville High School, offering Public Forum.


The emphasis of this contest is on the spirit of collaboration over competition, and empowerment of young people in self-directed learning. In that spirit, politeness, respect, collegiality, and authenticity of communication are paramount. Judges should evaluate what students say, rather than what they ought to have said. Ahead of the tournament, coaches should prepare students to think for themselves, rather than hovering around rounds during the tournament and telling students what arguments to run.


Schools will be assessed a $50 school fee to participate. Within a few days, the WHSFA office will reverse fees for WHSFA member schools. All entries will be a assessed a $20/entry fee.


Any number of entries may be registered by 5:00 pm, Sunday, December 8, with one judge for every two entries (or fraction thereof), and coaches should bring lay, non-debate specialist judges whenever possible. This does not preclude judges who have experience in debate, but they should be aware that the prime objective of this contest is to build participation, and not on esoteric technicalities of debate theory. Uncovered judging obligations will be assessed at a rate of $100/judge, payable to WHSFA. For for any special needs/dietary restrictions accommodations your students or judges may have, please contact us.


  8:15 a.m. - Registration Begins
  8:45 a.m. - Registration Ends; Meeting for Debaters and Judges
  9:15 a.m. - Round 1
10:00 a.m. - Round 2
11:00 a.m. - Round 3
12:00 p.m. - Round 4
--- LUNCH ---
  1:30 p.m. - Finals
  2:45 p.m. - Awards


Resolved: The benefits of the United States federal government’s use of offensive cyber operations outweigh the harms.

Contest Rules/Guidelines

We use the Public Forum format, with one modification in timingthe Final Focus will be up to one minute in length. Also, speaker points are on a scale of 1-10. 

Rounds 1 and 2 will be randomly paired; Rounds 3 and 4 will be power-matched, high/low within brackets. Multiple teams from the same school will not be protected against each other. The emphasis of this contest is on the achievement of individual teams, and not schools/squads, overall. Elimination rounds will consist of a panel of an odd number of judges. The final round will compile a vote of all student observers who write a ballot as counting equivalent strength to one adult judge.

We encourage judges to input e-ballots. Read instructions here.




All participants may bring/arrange their own lunch or visit the union.